With the rise of distracted driving, cell phones are often cited as villains that facilitate dangerous driving practices. But while distracting phone calls, text messages, and games are certainly a large part of the problem, a few tech companies have put significant resources toward developing smart phone applications that will actually make it easier to drive without distractions. Of course, this isn’t always the result. Earlier this month, for example, we listed the top five most dangerous distracted driving technologies. This week, in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we’re focusing on the good innovations that could lead to a generation of safer cell phones and less distracted drivers. Take a look, and leave your thoughts in the comments section, or on our Facebook page.
Text No More
Driver chooses when the software will block calls and texts.
Calls still come through if Bluetooth is detected.
Also features Amber Alerts for missing children.
Rewards drivers for activating cell blocking system with local merchant deals.
“Originally, Text No More was supposed to be an anti-texting and driving app but with the downloads going in 14 countries, we decided that with millions of eyes, why not put missing kids there,” said creator Rodney Stearns.
Reviews: KOIN Local, Digital Trends.
$13.95 per year; $34.95 per year for family plan
Reads texts and emails aloud to the driver.
Optional text-message auto-responder.
Reduced price plan for up to 4 family members.
Won Mashable’s most recent “Best Mobile App” Award, and various other honors.
“The idea behind DriveSafe.ly was to help solve a real problem, texting while driving, while mainstreaming iSpeech technology. DriveSafe.ly helps keep people’s eyes on the road,” said iSpeech CEO Heath Ahrens.
Reviews: Mashable, TechCrunch.
First insurance-sponsored distracted driving app.
Driver activates the app before driving, entering class, etc.
Replies to text messages with pre-customized responses.
“This new service will help drivers manage the temptation to read or respond to text messages when they are behind the wheel. We wanted to make this widget available free-of-charge as just one of the ways we’re working to keep our roadways safe for drivers,” said State Farm’s Laurette Stiles.
Reviews: Autoblog; Steve Anderson.
$3 per month
Global positioning satellite detects when car is moving and blocks calls & texts.
Sender receives an automated reply that the driver will respond later.
TeenSafer alerts parents when car reaches destination safely.
FleetSafer enables companies to restrict distractions for multiple vehicles.
“We prevent the driver’s curiosity from being piqued, and we enable them to remain focused on the road,” said CEO Matt Howard.
Reviews: CNET; TMCNet.
Sprint Drive First
$2 per month on your phone bill
Sends all calls directly to voice-mail.
Auto-responds to text messages, saying the driver will respond later.
Allows use of safety apps, like GPS navigation.
Parents and business admins have power to set phone controls.
“As mobile data usage continues to grow in popularity, Sprint wants to ensure its wireless consumers engage in safe behavior for themselves and others,” said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse.
Reviews: Engadget; CNET.
Photo credits: Text No More, DriveSafe.ly, All State Video, ZoomSafer, LocationLabs